Daddy who? The sexist world of our children’s storiesMay 24, 2016
Father of two Andy Buchan is a bit fed up with the sexist gender stereotypes in his daughter’s books…
Lyla, our eldest at 2, loves books. Like, they’re literally her favourite thing – apart from Leo at nursery, but we don’t talk about that, mainly as I start imagining what sort of shotgun I’m going to buy.
And I love reading to her. I’ve always done her bath times, and for the last year as my wife was pregnant/on baby Dylan duties, have done her bed times. I’ve read ‘The Tombliboos made a Tombliboo tower from the Tombliboo bricks’ so many times, it’s like some sort of In The Night Garden mantra that helps me through the dark times.
We’ve read Spot the Dog (current favourite), the The Tiger Who Came To Tea, Goodnight Peppa (including an opening page of Mummy and Daddy Pig guzzling wine and eating pizza, Parenting 101), Baby Says Moo, Bedtime Baby and dozens more.
And virtually every single one – to a sexist, world-defining T – paints Mummy as some sort of bed time saviour and Daddy, if he’s mentioned at all, as some work-a-holic, beer-addled, suit wearing, good for nothing play monkey who has no place around a child at the end of the day.
Exhibit A: Bedtime Baby
‘A cuddle just from Mummy,’ appears twice, in this yearning paean to slumber, a winsome, loving and utterly fatherless tale of a little girl on her birthday. Daddy, we can only assume, is knee-deep in hookers at the York hotel, why else would he not be mentioned ON HER SODDING BIRTHDAY.
Exhibit B: The Tiger Who Came To Tea
A firm family favourite, and one that has persisted through the generations. Peel back the layer on this dinner table utopia, however, and you find a murky, sexist world where Mummy is chained to the family home, Daddy arrives late home from work, Mummy makes the tea, Daddy has cunning ideas and saves the day. Except, does that 2.4 children routine hold true any more? No. Not to blow my own trumpet (that’s a very different book, altogether), we split the cooking, my wife usually has the cunning ideas and I changed my working hours so that I could come home at 5pm for an hour of play time before doing my share of the bed and bath time.
Exhibit C: Goodnight Peppa
In summary, Daddy Pig – the big bumbling fat oaf that he is (okay, so they got that sexist stereotype correct) – messes up bedtime by having a party with his kids, before Mummy Pig rescues the day and settles Peppa and George. Any self-respecting father would be so fearful of the retribution from his wife if he messed up bed time, thus cutting into her much needed wine-salutations, that there’s ZERO chance of him dancing and partying it up with his kids at bed time.
My solution? Find and replace ‘Mummy’ with ‘Daddy’ – it might give Lyla some gender issues (Daddy is now female and wearing a dress? Just go with it, kid) but at least it’s closer to the truth. Failing that, my new book series, Daddy Knows Best, will be out early next year.